One of the most fundamental aspects of our job here at the Nature research journals is overseeing the peer-review process. In making our decisions on whether to accept a manuscript for publication, the advice given to us by experts on the topic in question is absolutely crucial. And we get a wide range of responses from referees – sometimes we get very lengthy and detailed reports (some of which even rival the word count of the original manuscript being evaluated – yes, really), and sometimes we get very short reports of just a sentence or two.
What do we want? Well, Nature Physics have written a wonderfully lucid editorial explaining just that. If you referee for any journal, but especially those in the Nature stable, this is required reading. You can find the editorial here – it is freely available, but you do need to have a nature.com account.
I’ll leave you with one of the most important sentences from the editorial to whet your appetite and encourage you to go and read it – Whatever you think about a paper, it is vital to explain to us exactly why you think it.
Stuart Cantrill (Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry)